Archive for the ‘Work File Only – Observer’s Challenge Reports’ category

NGC 2964/2968/2970 – Galaxies in Leo – April 2019 Observer’s Challenge Objects

March 28, 2019
Observer’s Challenge Report:
Pencil sketch with colors inverted:
Rogers NGC-2964 Invereted

NGC 2964-68-70

Image by Mario Motta from Massachusetts, 32-inch telescope:



NGC 2300 and NGC 2276 – Galaxy Pair in Cepheus – March 2019 Observer’s Challenge Objects

March 7, 2019

March Observer’s Challenge Complete Report:  Click on the following link:



Pencil sketch 10-inch reflector @ 183x: 

NGC 2300 and 2276

Inverted color pencil sketch:  

Rogers NGC-2300 Inverted

NGC 2300 and NGC 2276 – Galaxies in Cepheus –  Date:  Wednesday, March 6th 2019 Telescope:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector – Sketch magnification:  183x – Eyepiece:  12.5 mm + 2x Barlow – FOV:  0.33º – 20 arc minutes – Conditions:  NELM ~5.0-5.2 

NGC 2300:  Bright, high surface brightness, brighter very concentrated nucleus, mostly round, but with a very subtle E-W elongation.  

NGC 2276:  Extremely difficult, mostly round, very low surface brightness, appearing only as a brightening in the sky.  Very even without concentration.  The glare from a magnitude 8.5 star located two arc minutes WSW of the galaxy, hinders the view.  Averted vision required.  The eyepiece view of this galaxy was far more illusive than my pencil sketch projection.  Roger Ivester 


Image and information by Mario Motta – 32-inch f/6 telescope 


I fought some clouds late, and had to drop some subs, but got about 65 minutes total for this image.  

SBIG STL 1001B camera, five minute subs to keep the bright mag. 8.5 star, only a couple arc minutes away from blooming too much, with the 32-inch f/6 telescope, and then processed in PixInsight.  

NGC 2300 is mostly featureless as an elliptical, but I find NGC 2276 very interesting.  It has sharp arms that are chock full of H alpha knots it would appear.  

I wonder if NGC 2276 is a starburst galaxy?  Possibly by a close approach to 2300?  Such an interesting galaxy and image.  

Mario Motta from Massachusetts  

Supplemental Post: 

I  did a search and was right, concerning NGC 2276!  It is a starburst galaxy, see below:  A short abstract from Chandra observations.  Mario  


The starbusting, nearby (D = 32.9 Mpc) spiral (Sc) galaxy NGC 2276 belongs to the sparse group dominated by the elliptical galaxy NGC 2300. NGC 2276 is a remarkable galaxy, as it displays a disturbed morphology at many wavelengths. This is possibly due to gravitational interaction with the central elliptical galaxy of the group. Previous ROSAT and XMM–Newton observations resulted in the detection of extended hot gas emission and of a single very bright (∼1041 erg s−1) ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX) candidate. Here, we report on a study of the X-ray sources of NGC 2276 based on Chandra data taken in 2004. Chandra was able to resolve 16 sources, 8 of which are ULXs, and to reveal that the previous ULX candidate is actually composed of a few distinct objects. We construct the luminosity function of NGC 2276, which can be interpreted as dominated by high-mass X-ray binaries, and estimate the star formation rate (SFR) to be ∼5–15 M yr−1, consistent with the values derived from optical and infrared observations. By means of numerical simulations, we show that both ram pressure and viscous transfer effects are necessary to produce the distorted morphology and the high SFR observed in NGC 2276, while tidal interaction have a marginal effect.

NGC 2175: Reflection Nebula in Orion – February 2019 Observer’s Challenge Object #120

January 7, 2019

Observer’s Challenge Report:  FEBRUARY 2019 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – NGC-2175

If you have identification questions concerning reflection nebula NGC 2175, the following information by Sue French will be of value during your observation.   

NGC 2174 is a brighter knot in the northern part of NGC 2175.  The existence of a true cluster within NGC 2175 is dubious, but the visually involved stars are nonetheless known as Collinder 84.   Sue French


Hi Roger, learning curve to do mosaic well in Pixinsight, but here is my effort.

This is a composite of east and western end of the monkey.
This one only includes Ha and O3 data, S2 could not be incorporated in the composite due to eastern end getting clouds at that time.  So…came out OK, I think.
The following image is about 5 -6 hours total sub time to get. Strl 1001E camera (field of view 17×17 arc minutes per sub) the combo spans about 30 arc minutes. Taken with my 32 inch f/6, 4800mm FL, several nights work


Pencil Sketch by Roger Ivester

ngc 2175

Pencil sketch with colors inverted:

rogers ngc-2175 inverted

Date: January 9, 2019; Conditions: Excellent; NELM 5.2 

Telescope: 10-inch f/4.5 Newtonian reflector; Elapsed time for this object:  Three hours;  Sketch Magnification: 57x; Filter:  O III; Field of View: 1.1º – 66 arcminutes;  Addition magnification, without filter: 95x 

At 57x, using a 20 mm eyepiece, plus O III, the nebula was very easy to locate and see, however, almost invisible without the filter.  The nebula is brightest and more concentrated around the central mag. 7.5 star.  Dark lanes are abundant throughout the nebula, especially looping around the south edge.  With averted vision, NGC 2174, a nebulous patch could be observed on the NW corner, however, not constant.  A small cluster of stars to the ENE of NGC 2175, has the appearance of having nebulosity.  When removing the O III filter, and increasing the magnification to 95x, and with averted vision, many faint stars began to appear within the nebula as shown in my sketch.  Roger Ivester   


Image provided by David Blanchette from Las Vegas:  North is up and west to the right.  Telescope and equipment:  8-inch Explore Scientific Newtonian Astrograph, Canon Rebel T7i, 50x60s, ISO 6400, Baader UHC-S filter, Deep-Sky Stacker. 

ngc 2174 north crop


Observation notes by Sue French:

I hope to sketch this for the Observer’s Challenge, but in the meantime here are my past logs for NGC 2175:


3-1-91, 9:00 PM EST, 10-inch/f6 homemade Newtonian, 32mm Plössl+ O III filter, Seeing: fair, Transparency: good, Aurora

Large, faint, mottled nebula containing a 7.6-magnitude star in a rich field of fainter stars.  About one-half degree in diameter.


2-12-96, Winter Star Party, 11:00 PM EST, 105mm AP Traveler prototype, 13mm Nagler, Seeing: fair, Transparency: good

Very nice nebula about 20 arcminutes in diameter. Obvious without filter, but better with the PTR Optics narrowband filter and even better with an O III filter. 7.6-magnitude star near center plus about a dozen faint stars superimposed. Slight mottling to nebula with hints of some dark lanes.


3-1-96, 9:35 PM EST, 10-inch/f6 homemade Newtonian, 35mm Panoptic, O III filter, Seeing: fair, Transparency: good

A large, round glow through the O III filter, about 23 arcminutes across.  Despite the outlines in Uranometria, the nebula looks pretty much centered on the 7.6-magnitude star embedded within. The nebula brightens gradually toward the center.  The view is similar with a UHC filter, but not quite as contrasty. Without a filter, the nebula is subtle. It has a dusting of faint stars across it.


12-23-16, 12:40 AM EST, My great-nephew’s 8-inch Orion Intelliscope in North Carolina

Visible in 9×50 finder with a 7.6-magnitude star embedded near center.

22mm Nagler: Large, easy to see.  The star near the center is in a star chain that has a prominent hump to the east.  Subtle dark nebulae thread the glow.  Many superimposed stars. The nebula shows nicely when adding a UHC filter.  Somewhat irregular in shape.  The Sh2-252 E nebulous knot doesn’t show particularly well, but it has a superimposed star near its center, too. O III filter makes the nebula seem quite bright to a diameter of 22 arcminutes.

9mm Nagler: The unrelated cluster Pismis 27 (sometimes called NGC 2175.1) shows 6 fairly bright stars in a SSE-NNW bunch, plus a half-dozen faint stars.  Overall the group spans about 4.2 arcminutes.


1-30-17, 8:40 PM EST, 10-inch/f5.8 homemade Newtonian, Seeing and Transparency; fair, snowcover, 14°F. breezy

2175 is visible through the 9×50 finder as a distinct sizable glow around a star.

22mm Nagler: The nebula is subtle. Pismis 27 shows 9 stars.  Adding a UHC filter shows a beautiful, large nebula threaded with dark lanes.  The northern border is particularly irregular.  The nebulosity covers about  25 arcminutes.  There’s a very small, brighter patch (Sh2-252 E) 3.2 arcminutes ENE of the star.  The bright patch contains a star and has a pair of matched (m = 10.6, 10.7) stars 2.1 arcminutes north.  There may be a touch of nebulosity in Pismis 27.

22mm Nagler + O III filter: Also makes the nebula stand out well, but I prefer the UHC, which shows off the lines and chains of stars meandering across the nebula.

13mm Nagler: Pismis 27 shows 15 stars in about 4½ × 3 arcminute group running approximately north-south. Includes the close double J1922.


My first mention of NGC 2175 in my S&T column, which was then called Small-Scope Sampler, in the February 2004 issue:

Another nice nebula, NGC 2175, sits 1.4º east-northeast of Chi2 (c2) Orionis.  In my little refractor at 47x, I find the nebula obvious without a filter.  However, a narrowband filter betters the view and an OIII filter helps even more.  An 8th-magnitude star is visible near the center, and a dozen faint stars are superimposed.  The nebula is slightly mottled and shows hints of dark lanes.


NGC 2175 is sometimes plotted as an open cluster in star atlases while the designation NGC 2174 is given to the nebula.  Neither is correct.  NGC 2175 was discovered sometime in the mid-1800s by the German astronomer Carl Christian Bruhns and first reported by Arthur Auwers who described it as an 8th-magnitude star within a large nebula.


NGC 2174 is actually a bright knot of nebulosity in the northern edge of NGC 2175.  It was discovered at Marseille Observatory by Édouard Stephan, widely recognized for the group of galaxies that bears his name – Stephan’s Quintet.  Folks with larger scopes might like to hunt for NGC 2174 and for the even brighter knot Sh 2-252 E, respectively located 11′ north-northwest and 3.3′ east-northeast of the 8th-magnitude star.


The existence of an open cluster within the nebula seems debatable.  It was the Swedish astronomer Per Collinder who first noted a cluster here and mistakenly equated it with NGC 2175.  The cluster’s proper designation should then be Collinder 84, but there doesn’t appear to be an obvious concentration of stars within the nebula.  Collinder 84 is supposed to consist of the clumps of stars loosely scattered across most of NGC 2175.  Does it look like a cluster to you?

Sue French



NGC 1514 – Planetary Nebula In Taurus – the “Crystal Ball Nebula” January 2019 Observer’s Challenge Object

December 16, 2018


Image by Mario Motta from Massachusetts using a 32-inch reflector: 



I’ve observed NGC 1514 thrice with my 15-inch f/4.5 reflector, and it’s wonderfully complex.  The sketch was made at 216× with a UHC filter.  I may not have gotten all the lumps and bumps in exactly the right place, but it gives the general impression.   Sue French  

Inverted pencil sketch:  SF

N1514 neg

Positive pencil sketch:  SF 

N1514 pos


Pencil sketch by Roger Ivester

NGC 1514

Inverted pencil sketch

Rogers NGC-1514 Inverted

Seeing was excellent, but with a 74% illuminated moon.  I set my 10-inch reflector in the backyard, using my house to shield the direct light from the moon.  Having no idea what to expect under these conditions, I started out with 57x, and without a filter.  It was easy to see the 9th magnitude central star, with some faint surrounding nebulosity.  I then went to 208x and a UHC filter, and the nebula really came alive!  The only two stars visible in the field, are two ~8th mag. stars…one to the north and the other south.  The nebula has greater concentration to the north, which can seen in my sketch.  The edges are irregular and uneven, and the nebula has a very subtle N-S elongation.   

Roger Ivester 



NGC 1514 in Taurus is sometimes called the “Crystal Ball Nebula,”  But I have coined the name “Herschel’s Revelation” as being far more significant.  This is the object that convinced Sir William that nebulae were real and not, as was the belief then, just masses of unresolved stars.  His profound insight came at seeing the clear separation of the surrounding nebula from the obvious central star.  Yet another of Herschel’s many amazing observations based solely on the visual appearance of an object in his telescopes.  Jim Mullaney 

NGC 1003 – Galaxy In Perseus: Observer’s Challenge Report #118 – December 2018

December 7, 2018

The Observer’s Challenge Report in its entirety:

december 2018 observers challenge – ngc-1003

Notes and sketch by Sue French from New York:

I went out on December 4th to observe NGC 1003, which was my first clear, moonless night since October 30th.  Apparently the weather gods have a wry sense of humor, since this was my wedding anniversary.  We took out my homemade 254/1494mm Newtonian (10-inch f/5.8).  The seeing was fair, the transparency good, and the ground was covered with snow. 

The night was slightly breezy and the temperature 19 ºF.  At 68×NGC 1003 is a faintly visible oval near a 10th-magnitude star to its west-southwest.  At 187× the galaxy is nearly uniform in brightness, and a faint star appears along its northern flank. The galaxy looks more flocculent at 299×, and a slightly brighter region rests between the two flanking stars. The sketch was done at this magnification.   Sue French 

Re: Comet 46P Wirtanen:

We also looked at Comet 46P Wirtanen through Alan’s 15×50 image-stabilized binoculars.  

Pencil sketch by Sue French: 

N1003 pos5


Pencil sketch by Roger Ivester using a 10-inch Newtonian reflector @ 114x, from a 5.0 NELM location.  

NGC 1003

rogers ngc-1003 inverted

NGC 1003 image by Mario Motta from Massachusetts:

Equipment:  SBIG 100E camera and 32-inch f/6 

I could’t use many subs, had some tracking issues and need to work on my declination axle motor to worm coupling. The tracking seems to bounce a bit N-S, and stars are a  bit bloated, so this is not my best effort.  The time was about 40 minutes for a total of 5 min subs only.  Mario 



NGC 1003 image by Doug Paul from Massachusetts:

400mm camera lens f/2.8, iso800, 73subsx30s=36.5min, 100% scale.  Doug 




NGC 147 and NGC 185 – Galaxies in Cassiopeia – November 2018 Observer’s Challenge Report #117

October 29, 2018


Calculating the surface brightness magnitudes:  

Information from Observing handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects” by Christian B. Luginbulh and Brian A. Skiff :  

“The surface brightness magnitudes (sfc. br.), also from the * RC2, represent the brightness (in V or B, depending on the color of the integrated magnitude ) of a square arc minute patch averaged over the galaxy within the dimensions given for each.  Since this value is an average, the central parts of the galaxy will typically have higher surface brightness and the outer parts lower.”

For complete information concerning (sfc. br.) refer to pages 10-11 Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects.”   Luginbuhl and Skiff. 

* RC2 =  “….nearly all data on galaxies are from the Second Reference Catalogue of Bright Galaxies (RC2) by de Vaucouleurs, de Vaucouleurs and Corwin, and the Southern Galaxy Catalog (SGC) by Corwin, de Vancouleurs, and de Vancouleurs.” 

Images provided by Mario Motta from Massachusetts using a 32-inch reflector. 

Photographic information:  NGC  147 was a total of 70 minutes, taken August 10, 2015 with my 32 inch, SBIG STL camera 1001E.  NGC 185 was taken August 15, 2015 total of 50 minutes (must have had a bad frame and dropped, I almost always do at least 60 minutes)   Mario Motta

NGC 147:  Visual magnitude 9.5,   (sfc. br.) 14.5  


NGC 185:  Visual magnitude 9.2,   (sfc. br.) magnitude 14.3 


Observing notes and pencil sketches by Sue French from New York:

254/1494mm Newtonian

43×: By sweeping westward from Omicron Cassiopeiae, NGC 185 is immediately visible ensconced in a isosceles triangle of three 8th- to 10th-magnitude stars, the brightest one golden.

68×: The sketch was done at this magnification, where NGC 185 and NGC 147 just fit together in the 72 arcminute field of view.  NGC 185 has a small core that grows gently brighter toward the center. NGC 147 is more slender than its companion and very faint.  There’s a dim star superimposed on NGC 147, barely west of the galaxy’s center. Both galaxies lean roughly northeast by east, with plump NGC 185 have a slightly greater position angle. Most of the stars visible near the galaxies were sketched, but far too many showed in the richly populated Milky Way for me sketch all the field stars.   Sue French 

Pencil sketch with inverted colors:  SF 




Observing notes and pencil sketches by Roger Ivester

NGC 147, with a 10-inch reflector is very difficult at 57x, and best observed at magnifications of 114x and 160x from my 5.0 NELM backyard.  The galaxy is very faint and difficult, due to the extremely low surface brightness.  Elongated NE-SW, without concentration, with a faint star located almost in the halo to the north.  On nights of fair transparency, I’ve been unable to see this galaxy.  A dark sky is essential to successfully observe this object.  

The first time I observed this galaxy was in on October 12th 1993.  My note at that time:  10-inch reflector @ 57x, faint, and difficult with very low surface brightness.  At 95x, still dim, but noted an elongation of NE-SW, low surface brightness, and mostly featureless.  When first observing both NGC 147 and NGC 185 almost twenty five years ago, I used the photo’s in Burnham’s Celestial Handbook to verify my find.   

NGC 185, using a 10-inch reflector at 114x, shows this galaxy as large, mostly round and on nights of excellent transparency, a subtle center brightness.  Far easier and brighter than NGC 147.   Roger Ivester  


Pencil sketches:  

NGC 147
Rogers NGC-0147 Inverted
NGC 185
Rogers NGC-0185 Inverted


NGC 7129: Cluster+Nebula In Cepheus, October 2018 Observer’s Challenge Report #116

October 26, 2018


The Observer’s Challenge report is currently “in-progress” and will be posted when all participant reports are received, so please check back.  

NGC 7129: Cluster + Nebula.  Magnitudes;  nebula 11.5;  stars 10 

Image by Mario Motta from Massachusetts: 

30 minutes luminance, 15 minutes each of red-green-blue filters, total 75 minutes imaging.  The image was taken with a 32 inch f/6 reflector. 
A difficult object, and could not use narrowband filters as NGC 7129 is a reflection nebula.  I used color filters, but with the bright stars in the image allowed star bloat, so subs had to be short, 3 minutes each.   Mario Motta 



254 mm  1494 focal length  f/5.9  Newtonian Reflector – Notes and sketches by Sue French from New York 

43x: Swept up by moving 1.4 degrees west from the pretty blue and gold optical double Argyle 43 (ARY 43; WDS magnitudes 6.4, 6.8; separation 100 arcseconds).  The nebula appears fairly faint but is readily visible.

115x: The sketch was mostly executed at this magnification, but it was slightly touched up in a couple places at 213x. The brightest part of the nebula occupies a region that includes four stars. The northernmost star in the haze is very dim and couched in its own tiny halo of light.  It stands out better at the higher power. Insubstantial mist trails west-southwest from the main mass, but its extent and form are difficult to perceive.  The southernmost star on the sketch glows with a golden hue.   Sue French 

Pencil sketch with inverted colors:  SF

NGC 7129 inv


NGC 7129


Notes and sketches by Roger Ivester from North Carolina

In my 10-inch reflector a cluster of four brighter stars with some fainter members, enveloped by nebulosity with greater concentration around the two northernmost stars.  The nebula has fairly high surface brightness, and easy to see at 57x, but best seen at 114x, and without any type of filter.  The sparse cluster and nebulosity is very easy to locate and see, and stands out prominently in the star field.   Roger Ivester 

Pencil sketch using a 10-inch reflector @ 114x.   RI

NGC 7129 Sketch

Pencil sketch with inverted colors:   RI 

Rogers NGC-7129 Inverted